How couples can build trust again in a relationship after infidelity

If you’re giving it another chance, do it wholeheartedly.

Harper's Bazaar India

Unless you are in an open or polyamorous relationship, the most basic rule of your romantic arrangement is exclusivity. You place your trust in your partner, expecting them to respect the promises you made to each other—of being honest and faithful. And then they go on to break those very promises, giving in to careless and fleeting moments of temptation. They disrespect and disregard everything that you built together—the obstacles you overcame together, the way you prioritised each other, and how you made sure you stay in love. 

It’s natural for the person who was cheated on to feel betrayed on several levels. But is it the end of everything? While there is a certain stigma attached to staying in the relationship after being cheated on, it is up to you to decide whether that’s the right thing for you to do. 

In many cases, the relationship ends after infidelity but in some, the two people involved can pick up the pieces and build a connection that is even stronger than what they had earlier. The partner who was cheated on should be able to decide for themselves whether they truly believe their relationship deserves a second chance and if they can trust the cheating partner again. 

If you have taken that leap as a couple and decided to give your relationship another chance after infidelity, it is crucial to build back trust. Here’s how you can do that. 

For the partner who cheated

Practise full disclosure and honesty 

The thing with dishonesty in a relationship is that it will become known to your partner because they know you well. When you end up cheating on your partner, it’s best to give them at least the respect of the truth. Share your genuine reasons with them and let them know what happened. Start the new chapter of your relationship with a clean slate. 

Apologise with complete sincerity 

Express remorse in a way your partner can see it. Communicate your feelings in genuine words and let them know how deeply guilty you are for having broken their trust. And saying sorry isn’t enough; show them that you can go the extra mile to make the relationship work. 

Do what it takes to make your partner feel secure again 

Your partner may need to check your phone to see if you are still in touch with the person you cheated on them with. They may experience anxiety each time a situation feels similar to the past. Handle them with love and compassion and let them know you’re in it, for the good, the bad and the ugly.

For the partner who was cheated on 

Observe your partner’s behaviour 

If you have decided to give your partner another chance, it’s important to let your judgement be based on their actions and not words. If you see them being remorseful, and working hard on your relationship, you can let your walls down, at a pace that feels comfortable to you. 

Let go of the grudges

You must heal your heart and let go of the grudge. If you feel you can’t, it’s better to take a break and revisit when you have some perspective. Focus on yourself and don’t try to get your old relationship back. That relationship died and this is a new one, with new lessons and a new approach!

Refrain from playing the blame game 

You may feel tempted to drop taunts or get obsessively controlling. But remember, if a person has to cheat, they will. Protect your heart but give them a chance without bringing in toxic behaviour patterns. 

For them as a couple 

Opt for couples’ therapy

When a partner cheats, it is a possibility that the relationship had unresolved issues that needed to be addressed. A therapist will be able to help you navigate through those. If the person who was cheated on is having trouble trusting again, a therapist will be able to offer solutions as well. It’s a delicate situation and taking an expert’s help to navigate your negative emotions may be helpful.

Have open communication 

Learn from the past. From here on, have only and only open communication with each other. You should be able to be each other’s best friends and talk about your feelings in a raw manner.

Show each other kindness

It’s important for both of you to acknowledge that both partners are hurting. It means that whether you cheated or got cheated on, both of you deserve compassion and respect, as a person. Be kind and human.